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May 2, 2011 | by  | in Arts Film |
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Rubber Review

If you’re going into Rubber expecting a movie about a killer tyre killing folks and being bad-ass, boy howdy have I got news for you.

Rubber may have been marketed as some nutso pisstake of the high-concept film, upping the ante by drenching an inherently ludicrous plot with enough blood to keep an entire bus full of crash victims alive, but the reality is far weirder—Dupieux has lured you into his film with the intent of mocking you for coming to see a film about killer tyre killing folks and being bad-ass.

The film opens with a speech delivered by Lieutenant Chad (a brilliant, laconic Stephen Spinella) that asks the important questions—why was ET brown? Why don’t they ever go to the bathroom in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre? Why, in The Pianist, was Adrian Brody hiding and living like a bum when he could play the piano so well? The only answer, in Chad’s eyes, is that “all important element of style”: no reason. However, this is just a red herring, as we realise there is a reason—it’s because we, the audience, demand it. The film sells this by switching between Robert, the killer tyre who just wants to be loved, and a rag-tag audience of stereotypes watching the action through binoculars a few miles away. The audience cheers when Robert blows a beer bottle up with his ‘psychokinetic powers’—in response, he begins blowing up bigger and bigger things. The audience questions his motivations—in reponse, he falls in love with a French girl and watches his rubber brethren burned in a tire fire. The audience makes lewd comments about the French girl he’s stalking—in response, he enters her room. Everything Robert does, he does for the audience.

Dupieux’s view of the audience is not glamorous—they demand too much, they moan about things not making sense, they eat food like dogs; they are, in a manner of speaking, ‘animals’. However, his mockery of our myriad demands (“That can’t be it! FEAR NEVER DIES!”) never crosses the line into mean-spirited and is tempered by a similar send-up of the cynicism of Hollywood itself in the figure of Lieutenant Chad. Further, Dupieux’s excellent cinematography—never has an American desert looked so warm—and cannily evocative score make it a feast for the eyes as well as the mind and a damn good time overall.

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